Photo: VW

After its 2015 scandal where Volkswagen admitted to US regulators that it cheated on emissions tests, the German automaker has unveiled its new plan to invest heavily in electric vehicles and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. According to VW’s recent press release, the company plans to release 70 new electric models in the next ten years – instead of the 50 previously planned. As a result, the projected number of vehicles to be built in the next decade will increase from 15 million to 22 million.

This announcement seems like a continuation of Volkswagen’s existing sustainability commitments, as CNN explained, “The group had previously announced massive investments in electric and battery technology, signaling its intention to confront upstarts like Tesla that have taken the lead in the emerging market for electric cars.” Many experts believe that the death of the internal combustion engine is inevitable and automakers have been investing in expanding their lines of electric and hybrid vehicles. The obstacle is that public uptake of EVs is still limited and charging infrastructure is not distributed equally among municipalities (especially in the United States) so automakers have been working together to share costs of developing these cars and the necessary infrastructure. As Eco Watch explained:

  • To this end, Volkswagen said it would share its Modular Electric Toolkit (MEB) with other automakers.
  • In addition to increasing its electric fleet, the company’s decarbonization plans also include powering factories with renewable energy, compensating for unavoidable emissions and working on reducing the emissions of the entire production cycle, from supplies to recycling.

Why This Matters: Sales of EVs in the United States took off last year thanks in large part to Tesla. Tesla’s design is unrivaled and while they do make the more affordable Model 3, there needs to be more variety on the market of sleek and affordable electric vehicles. Additionally, it’s important that makers of EVs also help develop systems for charging cars so that consumers can begin to ease their range anxiety which prevents many people from purchasing an EV. After all, electric vehicles are an important step toward a low-carbon future but first there several barriers that we must overcome before EVs substantially begin to replace internal combustion engines.

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